Below, you can read our interview with Les Fradkin. Check out our full music review of Say You Love Me For Christmas here.
Q: Great to be speaking with you, Les! You’ve been in the music business for quite some time. How do you feel your style has evolved over the years?
A: In the beginning of my career, my decisions were subject to approval by the major labels I recorded for. Nowadays, since I have my own independent label, I’m only subject to my wife’s decisions 😊 and with her we make our own decisions! In the beginning of my career, I was very fortunate to have many knowledgeable mentors. Now I’ve developed my own sound and I’m very proud of that approach.
Q: You’re originally from the New York City area but are now based in Colorado. Do you prefer one music scene over the other?
A: Actually, I also have another home outside the US in the Caribbean. And I’m not a part of that music scene, either except as friends with many of the musicians. I don’t pay any attention to so-called music scenes, because I focus on my own creativity. I’ve never really been a part of any music scene, per se, either in New York, or in Colorado unless you count my brief involvement with ESP Disk and David Peel and John Lennon where I was a heavy part of the underground scene in New York City back in the 70s. I used to be onstage in Beatlemania so much that I never had any opportunity to see anybody else perform, and now that I don’t go to concerts anymore I still don’t have any opportunity to see anybody else perform.
Q: As a one-man band, how do you approach the process of playing multiple instruments for your recordings?
A: Well, for starters, I don’t have to worry about scheduling anybody else to do a session! I pay attention to each instrument one thing at a time. Actually, I hear the whole record in my head before I even sit down to record it, and I usually put down some kind of rhythm, musical part, followed by a drum idea and then expand it from there. I always do the bass guitar last because it gives me the most freedom to develop a counterpoint part the same way, Paul McCartney did on Sergeant Pepper. My classical training and my session, musician training early on gave me very clear ideas about how to arrange things how to write and compose things, and how to organize things in a consistent manner.
Q: Your recent single release “Say You Love Me For Christmas” has been remastered alongside the entirety of your 2006 album “Spirit of Christmas”. What made you choose this album to remaster, and what was the process like?
A: Technology in the form of digital audio workstations has improved significantly since 2006, so the process allowed me to bring out the details in the tracks that weren’t quite as obvious before. I chose this album because it’s holiday season and it offers such a feel good feeling that it was irresistible.
Q: How do you approach balancing the classic essence of Christmas music with a fresh, contemporary sound?
A: I just applied my own approach to whatever I’m doing so it kind of comes out on automatic pilot. I’ve done it all my life, although in the case of the Christmas music, I did have some guidance from the approach Phil Spector did back in the day. In fact, I worked with Phil on a couple of occasions so I got a very close upfront look at how things were done his way.
Q: What was your first instrument? Do you still have/play it?
A: I played piano, viola and auto harp before I even took up the guitar as a kid. Of course, I still play piano on my recordings. As for my first acoustic and electric guitars, I haven’t had them for a long, long time. But I’m very happy with the equipment I have now and they see action on all my recordings. I acquired my first 12 string bass 20 years ago in time to do the reality the rock opera album and I still use that instrument today on my recordings.
Q: Perhaps in some unspecified amount of time, your musical career explodes in the best of ways. What does that look like for you?
A: Well, we’ve had a bit of a taste of that this year with the over 1.4 million streaming statistics for my song, “Under the Covers”, as well as my induction into the Akademia music Hall of Fame.
Q: You get to collaborate with anyone of your choosing. Who is it?
A: That woman- otherwise known as my wife! If I could collaborate with anyone else, I’d have to get her permission first!😊 the ones I would’ve liked to have collaborated with have all passed away.
Q: Your favorite album of all time? (Yup, you gotta choose one.)
A: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Q: Your favorite song of all time? (Again, only one!)
A: Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys
Q: What would you like fans to know about you that they’re most likely unaware of?
A: I have played on dozens of hit records, that I am not allowed to reveal due to nondisclosure agreements. I have also written programmed and composed many many famous jingles and commercials in the 80s that many people are aware of – they just don’t realize it was me.
Q: Any shout-outs you wanna make?
A: I want to thank Dean guitars, Starr Labs, Hallmark Guitars, and the Mellotron company for all of their support to my creative endeavors. And I want to give a big thank you to all the fans of my music who generously support all of my creative efforts.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Thanks to your publication as well!
(Want to be interviewed by The Ark of Music? Click HERE.)